Thank God for my husband.
I’m well aware of how lucky and blessed I am to have a guy who takes care of all our car problems, listens to me talk endlessly about Downton Abbey (don’t even with this week), routinely does the dishes, and plans (and let’s be real, with my current schedule, preps) most of our meals.
But being gone for a few days reminds me all over again just how fortunate I am to have my husband. Not someone else’s husband, not some idea of the perfect husband, but My. Husband.
I was at Alt Summit this week (for work, not for this blog, which will remain an underachiever until further notice) and when I got home Saturday afternoon, I was wiped. I barely remember Brad making me dinner (again!) and going to bed. But I do remember waking up Sunday morning and remembering him saying we should make my mom’s spinach pie for dinner that night. See? I love that man.
Because guys, my mom’s spinach pie is not something that gets lost in the haze, even one brought on by working 20-hour days (some of it performing legitimate manual labor) four days in a row.
It’s the pie we’ve always requested for our birthday meal, that Mom makes over the holidays, that she makes whenever my sisters are back in town…in fact, I think she made it when I first brought Brad home for dinner, just a day after we started dating. Just like Elizabeth Bennett seeing the grounds of Pemberley, I think Brad can trace his love for me back to his first taste of this pie.
So yesterday afternoon–after taking a 4-1/2 hour nap and banishing my remaining haze–we set to work. I handled the pie crust, Brad tackled the sausage, and we both hoped and hoped our version would be as good as my mom’s.
It wasn’t. Nothing could ever be as good as my mom’s and she’s the only person not allowed to ever make this recipe because I want her to keep making hers until the end of time. But, as far as clean comfort food goes, this was tops. The perfect welcome home meal, the best time back cooking side-by-side with the man I love.
makes 1 pie
So this is sort of like a quiche. It has an egg base, cheese, and it’s all tucked into a pie crust. But as my dad always says: Real men eat quiche. In our family, they (and the women) eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes cold, because it doesn’t lose anything for being served right out of the fridge the next day.
2-1/4 cups organic sprouted spelt flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup organic butter
8 tablespoons ice water
1 to 2 tablespoons vodka
1 lb grass-fed beef
3-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 garlic clove, chopped
6 eggs (hold aside one egg yolk, mix with water and brush on the top crust)
1 16-oz. package frozen spinach, drained and squeezed to remove moisture
3/4 lb. goat milk cheddar cheese (or mozzarella cheese), shredded
2/3 cup goat cheese
1/2 lb sausage, browned (save the rest for breakfast. mmmm)
Prep the crust: Whisk together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter (I used a fork because, unbelievably, I don’t own a pastry cutter) until it’s pea-sized. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, tossing it with a fork until it’s moist, then pushing it to the side before repeating with a fresh spoonful of water (and vodka). When finished, the dough should hold together when formed into a ball, but not feel wet. This is the first time I used this method (taken from the famous Red Plaid…why not?), and I thought it made a really workable dough. The end product was a little heavier than white flour pastry, but I attribute that to the spelt more than the method. Anyway, halve the dough and form each into a round disk. If you’ve worked fast, you can roll out the first crust now and place it in a 9-inch pie plate and place the whole thing in the fridge. I recommend chilling the second half while you roll out the first and prep the filling.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown the sausage: Combine all sausage ingredients. Crumble into a pan (we prefer our cast iron because that poor thing needs all the seasoning it can get). Brown the meat (it’s ok if there’s a little pink), drain the meat and place it on a paper towel to soak up any extra grease. Unless you like grease. Then by all means, save it.
Prepare the filling: Whisk the eggs with the cheeses; fold in the spinach and sausage and season it with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust. Roll out the second pie crust if you haven’t already. Place on top of the filling, seal, crimp, and cut steam holes in the top. Brush the top with the egg yolk/water mixture.
Bake for 60 to 90 minutes (no, seriously), checking every 45. The pie filling will seem wet even when it’s done because of the moisture content in the spinach, so do the jiggle test and poke the crust at the edge to make sure it’s baked through before taking it out of the oven.
Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.